We get asked about W-Sitting all the time, so I am going to start off the topic and share some information on this subject. If you have any questions or want to add more information, hit the REPLY button to this topic.
As an OT/PT team, we always promote floor time play for young kids, but some children find it most comfortable to sit by turning their legs outwards and backwards in the shape of a “W”. Many parents and teachers have heard about W-sitting, but are probably asking if this is really a problem, and if so, why?
Unlike other sitting positions, when a child is sitting in a W position his legs provide a wide based of support, requiring very little activation of the core muscles. The W position may be a sign of trunk muscle weakness, which can lead to difficulty doing many gross and fine motor tasks along with trouble sitting for longer durations in school.
W-sitting is a more static position, rather than a dynamic one. In this position, kids cannot easily lean in different directions or rotate their trunks and are therefore not fully engaging with their environment in a developmentally appropriate way.
Even if there is no underlying cause for W-sitting, it can put a lot of stress on the hips and knees, potentially causing problems for these joints later on in life. Gently reminding your child to “fix his feet” early on, can help break the habit and encourage him to become more comfortable in other positions.
A good way to start helping your child avoid this position is by simply prompting with a verbal reminder, hand signal, or manually repositioning. Placing his legs straight out on front (long sitting), bending them by his side (side sitting), or advancing to criss-cross applesauce (tailor sitting) are good alternatives.
BOTTOM LINE: Kids may W-sit because of weaker core muscles or out of habit. It’s best to prompt your child out of this position to encourage the use of trunk muscles and prevent joint pain at the hips and knees later on